Seven people were sent to the hospital, including the conductor and the grip operator. The accident happened around 10 a.m. at Powell and Washington streets, and the culprit is a 1.5 inch bolt. The bolt, wedged in the track, caused the 15,000 pound cable car to come to an abrupt stop. The forty passengers were thrown forward.
Dominique Herrera, visiting from Ecuador, described the accident, "A French man was bleeding and the ambulance took him and then another man was bleeding with a child, but we don't know what happened. It just stopped like that."
Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) spokesperson Paul Rose adds, "The injury report that we received is that all the passengers stayed on the vehicle and were not ejected."
Technicians managed to remove the bolt, which somehow got into the cable groove. According to the MTA, the cable car was traveling downhill on Powell Street at about nine miles per hour.
The bolt did not come from another cable car; but instead, came from a hatch cover on the tracks. It then wedged itself in the channel where the cable runs.
"It was clearly lodged down in there so when the car came down and impacted the bolt it stopped," said Muni Director of Transit John Haley.
According to Muni, an alarm was supposed to go off to indicate there was something there. It didn't. Muni is now investigating why it failed.
"We're going to look at the maintenance practices as part of our review," Haley said.
Nearly 24,000 people, mostly tourists, rely on this 19th century technology every day.
According to a 2006 ABC7 News I-Team report, cable cars cause the most injuries of any form of transportation in the country.
Some of the people who were taken to the hospital were supposed to leave on a cruise later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the cruise left without them.